Commanders’ Rivera on firing of Mills III: ‘Just a difference in philosophy’

The Washington Commanders fired defensive line coach Sam Mills III, head coach Ron Rivera announced on Tuesday.

Assistant defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina will take over the position.

“I made a change on the coaching staff. I relieved Sam Mills III of his duties,” Rivera said. “Just a difference in philosophy for the most part, and we’ll go from there…

“Just some observations, and to me, it was I just felt it was a change that I needed to make, feeling there was a little bit of difference in the philosophy.”

When asked what the differences in philosophy were, Rivera said, “I’m going to keep that to myself.”

Mills is the son of Hall of Famer Sam Mills Jr., who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last Saturday in Canton, Ohio. He has been with the Commanders since 2020. Mills held a few coaching positions with the Panthers since 2005 and was with Rivera when he became the team’s head coach in 2011.

The 44-year-old was named defensive line coach in Carolina in 2018 and held the job until Rivera was fired in 2019.

Jets’ Becton could be out indefinitely with leg injury

New York Jets RT Mehki Becton played one game in 2021 due to a right knee injury he suffered in Week 1 against the Panthers. Unfortunately, he may have suffered another significant right leg injury on Monday at Jets training camp. 

Initially, there was some optimism about Becton’s condition, who limped off the practice field and did not return.  

“The only thing I got is that it’s stable,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said about the knee. “Everything seems fine. Preliminary. Obviously, we just have to get it checked for precautionary reasons. But as of now, it doesn’t seem like it’s a big deal, but knock-on wood. Hopefully, that stays the case.”

However, that optimism has faded.

According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Becton’s knee injury is more concerning than the team originally believed following practice today; it’s a new injury unrelated to his previous knee injury. 

The 23-year-old, the 11th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, had a brace on his right knee Friday and did not get many snaps at Saturday night’s practice, which Saleh discussed Monday.

“The limited snaps on Saturday, that was the first time we had been on the fake stuff and we just wanted to make sure we gave him just enough dosage to see how he came off and how he felt off of that day, which everything checked out great from the Green & White, but that’s what that pitch count was for,” Saleh said.

Before the injury, Becton reportedly looked labored at practice, which may have come from the sweltering heat. Last season, Becton’s knee injury was not supposed to keep him out the whole season. However, conditioning played a role in the third-year tackle not returning to the lineup.

If Becton’s injury is severe, the Jets might have interest in 36-year-old free agent OT Duane Brown who played for the Seahawks last season and was around the team over the weekend,

When asked about Brown, Jets coach Robert Saleh said, “That’s a Joe (Douglas) question.”

In addition to Becton’s injury, OT Conor McDermott injured his ankle at the team’s Green and White practice Saturday night. According to Saleh, McDermott is expected to miss 1-2 weeks.

Eagles’ Brown, Davis shine Sunday night

Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field, the Philadelphia Eagles held a practice in front of almost 30,000 fans. 

According to Eliot Shorr-Parks, QB Jalen Hurts was 11/18, touchdown. That touchdown was a beautiful 30-yard pass to A.J. Brown.

In addition, rookie DT Jordan Davis, who has been impressive at camp, showed off his tremendous strength. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni discussed what he sees from Davis.

“Size, strength, right? Just a big man who is still figuring out the NFL,” Sirianni said. “That’s an ongoing process.What you see more than anything is just the sheer size of the man and then just his strength. The guys that we went against that have that enormous size in the middle right there, they pose problems.

“So that’s what’s stood out the most to me so far.”

Brown, who was traded to the Eagles from the Titans in the offseason, and signed a four-year, $100 million contract with the team, was excited by the fan support on Sunday night.

The Eagles continue to prepare for their preseason opener, which is Friday night at home against the Jets. At this point, Sirianni is unsure how much the starters will play against New York.

“Still sorting through all that,” he said. “We don’t have to make that decision until Friday. We’ll probably make it a little bit sooner than that, but still sorting through that. Last year we played them, I want to say two series each. We felt like that was a good formula. I’m not committing to that yet. But we’re still thinking it through at this time.”

Tony Boselli thanked many on his way to the Hall of Fame

Tony Boselli was the Jaguars’ first-ever draft selection and became the team’s first-ever Hall of Famer Saturday afternoon at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony in Canton, Ohio. 

Boselli, who was the second overall pick in the 1995 NFL Draft out of USC, became a five-time Pro Bowl selection (1996-2000), and a three-time All-Pro (1997-99),

During his seven seasons in the NFL, Boselli allowed only 15.5 sacks and was the first Jaguars player to be inducted into the team’s Pride of the Jaguars, and he was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 1990s.

On Saturday, Boselli, who was inducted with seven others, was introduced b7 former Jaguars QB Mark Brunell, and he thanked Brunell and many of his teammates in Jacksonville.

“I had amazing teammates,” Boselli said during his speech. “I was fortunate to play with so many great Jaguars like Fred Taylor, who made me look good all the time, and Jimmy Smith, who not too many people could cover. I hope one day both of them will have the chance to be in Canton. And I treasure the moments I shared with my brothers on the offensive line, especially Ben Coleman, who had my back at left guard, Leon Searcy, who set the standard on the right side, and one of my best friends, Jeff Novak, who by the way is the only guy I ever backed up in the NFL, but most of the time he was busy making jokes and making me laugh.”

He also thanked his former coach Tom Coughlin, the team’s and Boselli’s first coach.

“Again, there is nothing more precious than family. To my Jaguars family…it all starts with Tom Coughlin, who, by the way, belongs on this stage really soon because there’s not too many better coaches than him. Tom, you were a pain to play for at times, though,” he said. “You were hard, had high standards, a bunch of silly rules I never agreed with. You were difficult to play for, but I always respected you. You made us winners. I am more grateful for you, Coach, with each passing year, and Tom, you and your family, will always mean the world to Angi and I.”

Boselli also thanked his wife, Angi, who he met during his time at USC. 

“My career, indeed, had taken flight at USC,” he said. “Much more important; however, my life would take shape thanks to meeting Angi Aylor, my wife, best friend, counselor, supporter, and the world’s greatest mom for 27 plus years. I want to thank Angi’s parents, Ed and Nancy, and her siblings, Steve, Ami, and Jeff, for all the support and for not messing her up. Angi, you’ve been central to my life in the journey I’ve taken as a football player, husband, and father. You’ve been with me since the beginning, encouraging me to take and follow the right path. And to keep me on the right path, she actually married me. Angi was at my side when the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars selected me second overall in the 1995 NFL Draft. The greatest thing football has done for me is setting the stage for you, Angi, to be my wife. God gave me the opportunity to play the game I love, but outside of Jesus dying for me, you’re the greatest gift I’ve received. Thank you, and I love you!!’

He finally thanked the rest of his family, including his kids and his dad, the late Tony Boselli, Sr.

“Above all, I thank God for family,” he said. “Mom, Fred, Carla, Jennifer, Michael, Lauren, Liz, Uncle Bud, and Aunt Betty, and all my cousins, Angi, my five amazing kids, Andrew, Adam, Ashli, Lexi, Ansli, but there’s actually one more I want to talk about. I was born Don Bosco Anthony Boselli, Junior. The best part of my name, though, is Junior.

To my dad, Tony Boselli, Senior, whose brave fight with cancer was decided on May 31, 2021, and whose impact on my childhood and career can never be adequately expressed. Thank you, Dad. Thank you for everything. I am happy you are in the comfort of God. I know you are here, but man, I wish you were here with me. I miss you. I love you. And on this, one of the greatest days of my life, I honor your memory and thank you for the greatest gift of all, and that’s family.”

Jets’ Saleh was happy with Zach Wilson’s performance at Green & White Practice

The New York Jets had their Green & White Practice Saturday under the lights at MetLife Stadium. 

It was an opportunity for the team to connect with the fans and an opportunity for the Jets to continue to get some good work in as they prepare for the upcoming NFL season.

Second-year quarterback Zach Wilson had some decent moments in this scrimmage. According to Newsday’s Al Iannazzone, Wilson was 12/19 for 100 yards, touchdown, interception. 

Jets coach Robert Saleh was happy with Wilson’s performance. 

“I really thought it was really good,” Saleh said. “He dropped a dime over a buzz defender’s head in the second half there, and I thought it was a chance to keep the drive going, had a really good strike there in the two-minute drive. I think it was to Corey (Davis). He moved around in the pocket, found some open lanes to run in, and bide some time. He was really good in the huddle, just standing back there listening to him. He was good with cadence because he was changing up his cadence. So, I thought he was really good.”

One guy that stood out at the scrimmage was fifth-year tight end Tyler Conklin, who Wilson has been connecting with throughout training camp.

According to the New York Post’s Brian Costello, Conklin had four catches Saturday night.

Saleh was happy with Conklin and the rest of the Jets’ tight ends. 

“Conk (Tyler Conklin) is awesome, he’s been fantastic for us,” Saleh said. “Him and C.J. (Uzomah), they’ve been really good. (Trevon) Wesco has been really good, (Lawrence) Cager has been really good. The whole group really has been really good for us, but as far as he’s concerned, just his ability on third down to create separation and win those one-on-one’s and be a run blocker, he’s an all-around tight end. He’s been a pleasant surprise.”

There were drops by some of the Jets wideouts, but it’s nothing that is concerning to Saleh.

I could make excuses,” he said. “We’re professionals; we got to make plays. But, at the same time, just talking to the guys, the first time you’re in the stadium, the depth perception is much different. So, you have to retrain your eyes for all of that, too. Not to make excuses for them; it’s a real thing, and just adjusting to all of it. That’s why we had these scrimmages here. That’s why we have preseason games, so we can get acclimated to everything. Overall, I even thought the receivers battled a lot in man coverage, won some one-on-ones, and overall, a decent day from that group.”

New York gets back to the practice field on Monday.

Giants’ Taylor: ‘I came in here ready to compete’

Late in the 2021 season, New York Giants QB Daniel Jones injured his neck and missed the season’s final six games. In those six games, the Giants struggled mightily on offense as quarterbacks Jake Fromm and Mike Glennon were not very good.

After that situation, the Giants knew they had to get a better backup going forward, and they did. In the offseason, Giants GM Joe Schoen, who was in the Bills’ organization when QB Tyrod Taylor was in Buffalo, signed Taylor to a two-year, $11 million contract.

The 33-year-old has been a starter in this league, been a Pro Bowler, and started six games for the Texans last season. He’s definitely an upgrade for the Giants.

The 12-year veteran has been around many situations in the NFL As a backup, it’s hard to be one of the leaders on the team, but he’s a vet, and he can help the younger players on the Giants.

On Wednesday, Taylor discussed his leadership style.

“It’s been different,” Taylor said about his leadership style. “If you would’ve asked me earlier in my career, I was always a lead by example. I think the older you get, the more experience you have you become more comfortable being vocal. Ultimately, how you play and how you execute is what guys are going to respond to the most. For me, go out and do your job each and every day, uplift guys and make the guys better, and trust them. Don’t go out there and try to be Superman. There are 11 guys on the field playing for one goal, and that’s to win the rep and ultimately win the game. Each and every play, like I said, just be detailed in your focus and execution.”

Also, as a backup, Taylor is there to support starter Daniel Jones, who Taylor believes has been impressive.

“Great competitor, friendly, southern,” Taylor said about Jones. “Me and my friends go back and forth on whether Virginia is southern or not. It kind of reminds me of people I grew up with, Virginia and North Carolina. Much respect for Daniel. The way he approaches his job each and every day and the way he goes out and leads. I think just the quarterback room as a whole, we all bring out the best in one another. Whether it’s in competitions, whether it’s in the weight room, whether it’s on the field, we tally up who has the best throws for the day. If you see our board of tallies, it can get crazy, but much respect to Daniel. He’s doing a great job throughout camp.”

Again, Taylor has been a starter numerous times in this league. He’s a competitor, but barring injury or abysmal play from Jones, he’s not going to get many snaps; according to Taylor, he’s just going to stay ready.

“I came in here ready to compete, and that’s what the nature of this game is,” Taylor said. “There is only one quarterback that can play, and you have to be ready at any time when that opportunity presents itself. I’m working each and every day just trying to get better and ready for the opportunity that presents itself.”

Eagles OC Steichen on Brown: ‘He can run a guy over or make a guy miss’

On draft day, the Philadelphia Eagles made a splash move when they acquired wide receiver A.J. Brown from the Tennessee Titans. Following the trade, Brown signed a four-year, $100 million deal with the team. 

The 25-year-old has been over one-thousand receiving yards in two of his three seasons in the league. In addition, for his career, he has 24 receiving touchdowns. 

With Brown and DeVonta Smith, the Eagles could have one of football’s best wide receiver duos. On Tuesday, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen discussed what he’s seen out of Brown at training camp.

“His physicalness that he brings to this football team, he’s got great play strength,” Steichen said. “He caught a slant the other day, and I had a flashback watching his tape when he was in Tennessee catching some of those slants. It just brought me back to his tape in Tennessee, where he catches that ball strong with his hands, and then he creates those plays afterwards. He can run a guy over or make a guy miss, but his play strength is very impressive.

Brown and Eagles QB Jalen Hurts have a close bond off the field and work out with each other in the offseason, but for the Eagles to be successful, Brown and Hurts need to bond on the field. Steichen talked about how the two are meshing at this point.

“I think they’re making great strides,” Steichen said. “They’ve spent a lot of time together in the off-season, obviously in spring, and then they threw again in the summer. It shows up, the timing, right?

“With anything, wide receivers and quarterbacks, it’s not like it just happens overnight. It’s been good to see. They’re talking through things right after every period. They are talking about, hey, we got to run it more like this, and this ball needs to be here. Those things take time, but it’s been good to see, and the progress has been really good.”

It’s early, and Hurts has reportedly been up and down thus far at camp, but again, it’s early, which means Hurts, Brown, and the rest of the offense have time to get on the same page but be clear, Brown will definitely be a weapon.

Jags’ Griffin on defense: ‘We are definitely better than last year’

The Jacksonville Jaguars had a hard time getting turnovers last season. Jacksonville’s defense was last in takeaways in 2021.

As they enter this season, the defense, led by new defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, hopes to improve and create more turnovers. 

According to corner Shaquill Griffin, the defense’s goal is to lead the league in interceptions.

“I guarantee it’s going to be way better than last year,” Griffin said Monday about getting more interceptions. “The goal is to lead the whole NFL. I’m taking it definitely a point to myself to make sure I have every opportunity. I might not get the most opportunities on the defense, but opportunities I do get, I want to make sure I make the best of them. That’s everything I continue to say. I’m still out here trying to catch footballs every day. But it starts with me. That’s how I feel. Every time I make a play, I feel like it’s someone else getting a pick. I think about the first pick of the camp I get one day, you got Benjie [Franklin] getting one, and then I get another pick the day, and then you come back Rudy Ford have to pick it. You got to start with somebody. I feel like picks come in bunches, but someone’s got to get the first one. I definitely put that on myself. It will be better this year. I definitely think we will double. But the goal is to be the best in NFL.”

In this year’s draft, the Jaguars grabbed OLB Travon Walker with the number one overall pick. In addition, they grabbed another linebacker late in the first round when they selected Devin Lloyd at 27. Furthermore, they got some secondary help with the acquisition of corner Darious Williams in free agency. 

Griffin believes that the Jaguars’ defense will be much better in 2022.

“We are definitely better than last year, just the way we’ve been attacking the ball, for one,” he said. “The way we communicate, and our communication is so much better; the trust is so much better. Then you see the D-line running around. There are so many times where when we get to the ball; they’re already sacked before the ball even came out. So that shows a lot. I feel like one thing about it our defense is moving a lot faster. Our defense is well conditioned. Defense is talking a lot more. Our defense trusts each other a lot more than last year, and that’s why we’re a bit different than last year.”

Notes:

Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson announced on Tuesday that quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and C.J. Beathard would not play in the team’s preseason opener on Thursday against the Raiders(Hall of Fame Game) in Canton, Ohio.

Jake Luton will get the start.

“I can tell you Trevor(Lawrence) is not going to play,” Pederson said. “C.J. Beathard, with the injury is not going to play, and really the decision for that, too, has been Trevor has been getting a lot of great looks here in practice, and we feel like he’s in a good spot. And, and so we’re going to make those decisions this afternoon, tell our team later on today, so we can prepare for the game.”

Dolphins’ owner fined, suspended, team loses two draft picks for tampering

The Miami Dolphins will forfeit a first-round selection in the 2023 NFL draft and a third-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft for violations of NFL policies relating to the integrity of the game, the league announced Tuesday.

In addition, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is suspended through October 17, 2022, and fined $1.5 million; Ross may not attend any league meeting before the Annual Meeting in 2023 and is removed from all League committees indefinitely.

Also, Dolphins’ Vice Chairman/Limited Partner, Bruce Beal, was fined $500,000 and may not attend any League meeting for the remainder of the 2022 season.

Tuesday’s announcement follows a six-month investigation covering events from 2019-2022 that was led by former U.S. Attorney and SEC Chair Mary Jo White and a team of lawyers from the Debevoise law firm. 

According to the league, the investigation focused on two subjects: (1) whether the Dolphins violated League rules prohibiting tampering with a player and a coach under contract to other clubs; and (2) whether, during the 2019 season, the Dolphins intentionally lost games to improve the club’s draft position in the 2020 draft, and whether Ross offered Head Coach Brian Flores financial incentives or otherwise encouraged him to lose games. 

Below are the league’s findings, which include tampering charges for contact with Tom Brady and former Saints head coach Sean Payton. However, the league determined that the Dolphins did not lose intentionally in 2019.

Tampering

The investigation conclusively established violations of the Anti-Tampering Policy on three separate occasions:

  1. The Dolphins had impermissible communications with quarterback Tom Brady in 2019-20, while he was under contract to the New England Patriots. Those communications began as early as August 2019 and continued throughout the 2019 season and post-season. These numerous and detailed discussions were conducted by Mr. Beal, who in turn kept Mr. Ross and other Dolphins executives informed of his discussions with Mr. Brady.

  2. The Dolphins again had impermissible communications with both Mr. Brady and his agent during and after the 2021 season, while he was under contract to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Those discussions began no later than early December 2021 and focused on Mr. Brady becoming a limited partner in the Dolphins and possibly serving as a football executive, although at times they also included the possibility of his playing for the Dolphins. Both Messrs. Ross and Beal were active participants in these discussions.

  3. In January 2022, the Dolphins had impermissible communications with Don Yee, the agent for New Orleans Saints’ head coach Sean Payton, about having Mr. Payton serve as Miami’s head coach. Miami did not seek consent from New Orleans to have these discussions, which occurred before Coach Payton announced his decision to retire as head coach of the Saints. Following that announcement, Miami requested permission to speak to Coach Payton for the first time, which New Orleans declined to grant.

“The investigators found tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity,” Commissioner Goodell said. “I know of no prior instance of a team violating the prohibition on tampering with both a head coach and star player, to the potential detriment of multiple other clubs, over a period of several years. Similarly, I know of no prior instance in which ownership was so directly involved in the violations.”

“Tanking” to Improve Draft Position

The investigation also addressed whether the Dolphins intentionally lost games during the 2019 season to improve the club’s draft position in the 2020 draft and whether Mr. Ross offered financial incentives or otherwise encouraged the head coach to do so.

The investigation conclusively established the following:

  1. The Dolphins did not intentionally lose games during the 2019 season.  Nor did anyone at the club, including Mr. Ross, instruct Coach Flores to do so. No witness contended otherwise. The Dolphins competed hard to win every game, including at the end of the season when they beat Cincinnati and New England, despite worsening Miami’s position in the 2020 draft.

  2. On a number of occasions during the 2019 season, Mr. Ross expressed his belief that the Dolphins’ position in the upcoming 2020 draft should take priority over the team’s win-loss record. These comments were made most frequently to Team President and CEO Tom Garfinkel, but were also made to General Manager Chris Grier, Senior Vice President Brandon Shore and Coach Flores. These comments, which he took to be suggestions that he lose games, troubled Coach Flores and led him to express his concerns in writing to senior club executives, each of whom assured Coach Flores that everyone, including Mr. Ross, supported him in building a winning culture in Miami. After this, Mr. Ross no longer made any such comments to Coach Flores.

  3. One such comment is a claimed offer by Mr. Ross to pay Coach Flores $100,000 to lose games, as to which there are differing recollections about the wording, timing, and context. However phrased, such a comment was not intended or taken to be a serious offer, nor was the subject pursued in any respect by Mr. Ross or anyone else at the club.

    “Every club is expected to make a good faith effort to win every game,” Commissioner Goodell stated. “The integrity of the game, and public confidence in professional football, demand no less. An owner or senior executive must understand the weight that his or her words carry, and the risk that a comment will be taken seriously and acted upon, even if that is not the intent or expectation. Even if made in jest and not intended to be taken seriously, comments suggesting that draft position is more important than winning can be misunderstood and carry with them an unnecessary potential risk to the integrity of the game. The comments made by Mr. Ross did not affect Coach Flores’ commitment to win and the Dolphins competed to win every game. Coach Flores is to be commended for not allowing any comment about the relative importance of draft position to affect his commitment to win throughout the season.”

    Based on the findings and conclusions, the following discipline will be imposed:

  • The Dolphins will forfeit the club’s first-round selection in the 2023 NFL draft and third-round selection in the 2024 NFL Draft.

  • Mr. Ross is suspended through October 17, 2022. During this period, he may not be present at the Dolphins’ facility and may not represent the club at any team or NFL event. He may not attend any League meeting prior to the Annual Meeting in 2023, is removed from all League committees indefinitely, and fined $1.5 million.

  • Mr. Bruce Beal, Dolphins’ Vice Chairman/Limited Partner, may not attend any League meeting for the remainder of the 2022 season and is fined $500,000.

    This discipline is informed by the Competition Committee’s clear guidance that more stringent discipline, including suspensions, should be imposed for tampering violations to deter future violations and to safeguard the integrity of the game.

Bucs’ Brady: ‘Guys choose this team because of the team, not because of me’

In March, Tom Brady decided to return for his 23rd season, and he told the world at the time that he had some “unfinished business.”

Brady, who has won seven Super Bowls and wants another one, will be 45 on August 3, so the time is now.

On Monday, Brady addressed the media for the first time during training camp and discussed his comments about unfinished business.

“We’re just going to do the best we can do,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of work between now [and then] – it’s August 1. There’s a lot of time. Nobody knows what the team is going to look like – you think you have a center, and then he gets injured, so the team is different in one day. There’s a long time between now and the first game.”

Over the past few seasons, the Buccaneers have grabbed some decent talent in free agency, and they recently signed seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Julio Jones. Brady has been around a long time, but according to him, he’s not always the reason players want to come to Tampa Bay.

“Naturally, I’m an older player, and I’ve been very fortunate to know a lot of guys,” he said. “Guys choose this team because of the team, not because of me. We have a great organization, great teammates, and I think people are excited to come join a great group of people and great group of men. It’s never about one person – it has never been what this sport has been about. It’s the ultimate team sport, and I love playing with players that our professional, players that want to work hard, and players that put the team first.”

One thing that could cause some issues for Brady is the injury to Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen, who is expected to miss significant time due to a left knee injury. Without Jensen, Brady will have to count on second-year center Robert Hainsey.

“He’s worked really hard,” Brady said about Hainsey. “Obviously, everyone’s heartbroken with what happened, Ryan [Jensen]. So, that’ll take a little time, but ‘Haines’ (Robert Hainsey) has to step into the job and do a great job. He’s worked hard last year, really gained the trust with a lot of people, and he has to go earn it. Like all of us, it’s not what you did [or] how hard you worked in the offseason; it’s how good of a football player are you. It’s to be determined for all of us.”

The moment Brady announced his return was the moment the Bucs were all in on 2022. They finished their business in 2020, and they hope, with the help of Brady, to take care of their unfinished business in 2022.